V-J Day For My Family

70 years ago August 15 marks the surrender of Japan and the end of World War II. The formal surrender ceremony was held in Tokyo Bay on 2 September 1945. President Truman declared that day to be V-J Day.

Germany had already surrendered on 7 May 1945. President Harry Truman felt the atomic bomb was the answer to Japan’s refusal to surrender. Mr. Truman understood the powerful rain of ruin that was contained in the bomb and at the same time made recommendations that Congress be a forceful influence towards the peace-time potential of atomic energy. On August 6 the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and another on Nagasaki on August 9. On August 14 Japan surrendered and the news of the surrender was announced to the world on August 15.

Earl Baars in Sicily

“Uncle Honey” on left in Sicily Oct 1943

So how did this effect my family? My mother, Carol Baars, was 15 years old at this time. She had two brothers and a brother-in-law who were serving in WW II. Her brother, Earl (nicknamed “Honey”) had enlisted on 27 March 1942 and served with the First U.S. Infantry Division. The division departed for England on 1 August 1942. On 22 October 1942 they departed for the combat amphibious assault of North Africa. They were in combat from 21 January 1943 to 9 May 1943. In July 1943 his division took part in Operation Husky invading Sicily. When the campaign was over he returned to England in November to prepare for the Normandy invasion. The First Infantry Division along with one regimental combat team from the 29th Infantry Division comprised the first wave of troops that assaulted German Army defenses on Omaha Beach on D-Day. They drove across France in a continuous offensive, reaching the German border in September. At the Battle of the Bulge his division was moved to the Ardennes front. Participating in several battles they pushed through the Harz Mountains into Czechoslovakia when the war in Europe ended on May 7, 1945. He was discharged on 30 September 1945. Growing up I did not know what his service involved but I was blessed to be able to grow up knowing my “Uncle Honey”.

USS Bollinger

USS Bolllinger during Battle of Iwo Jima March 1945

My mom’s other brother, Carl, enlisted in the navy on 20 March 1944 and served as a baker on the USS Bollinger. The Bollinger joined the Pacific Fleet and arrived at Pearl Harbor 19 February 1945. They departed two days later for the invasion of Iwo Jima providing logistic support. He was discharged on 23 November 1945. I have memories and pictures of birthday cakes prepared for me by “Uncle Carl”. Special desserts were treat when I spent a week with Uncle Carl and Aunt Dorothy.

My mom’s sister’s husband, Harold Siebecker, also served during WW II but I have been unable to locate any of his military records. The only record I have is a newspaper article in which his name is listed on the honor roll for service men in Beloit, WI.

At 6:00 p.m. (Central Time) 15 Aug 1945 President Truman announced at a press conference the unconditional surrender of Japan. The announcement was greeted with elation everywhere and Beloit, WI was no exception. What was it like for my mom and all her family to hear this news? The plant workers of the many factories in Beloit laid on the factory whistles all over town and residents added to the pandemonium with their car horns. Everyone headed for downtown and the crowd peaked at 25,000 around 9:00 p.m. Confetti was everywhere. From the air it looked like the downtown was under 2 feet of snow. High School students formed a long snake dance through town, even zigzagging their way through the post office. It’s possible my mom participated in that parade. A drum corps took part in another parade and a platform was erected at Fourth and Grand for musicians. A group of girls celebrating downtown yelled “Hurray! My man will be coming home!”. That was a celebration my mom could join in on because she knew her brothers were coming home! For others it was a sad moment to know their boys wouldn’t be coming home. The War was over.


September 2 Holiday VJ Day / Victory over Japan Day by Holiday Insights. (n.d.). Retrieved August 12, 2015, from http://www.holidayinsights.com/moreholidays/September/vjday.htm

AP Was There: 1945, US drops atomic bombs. (2015, August 5). The Monroe Times, p. B4.

(n.d.). Retrieved August 12, 2015, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1st_Infantry_Division_(United_States)

(n.d.). Retrieved August 12, 2015, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Bollinger_(APA-234)

60 Years Ago. (2005, Summer/Fall). Confluence, Newsletter of the Beloit Historical Society, vol. 12, pg11.

“U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010.”, database, Ancestry.com (http://Ancestry.com: accessed 12 Aug 2015), entry for Earl A Baars, Enlistment: 27 March 1942, Release: 30 September 1945.

“U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010.”, database, Ancestry.com (http://Ancestry.com: accessed 12 Aug 2015), entry for Carl Baars, Enlistment: 20 March 1944, Release: 23 November 1945.

US Navy, “USS Bollinger during the Battle of Iwo Jima, March 1945,” digital images, Wikipedia.org (http://www.navsource.org/archives/10/03/03234.htm: accessed 11 August 2015).

Alexander Adair Served in a Different Regiment

Ezra, Charles and Alexander Adair were brothers of and my husband’s and my 2nd great grandmother, Irene Adair Poff. Ezra and Charles served in the Civil War in the same company, the 5th Independent Battery, Wisconsin Light Artillery while Alexander served in the 18th Regiment Infantry, Company B.

Alexander was born 18 April 1844 in Kent County, West Canada (Ontario) to John Adair and Nancy (Martha) Simpkins. They immigrated to Green County, Wisconsin sometime after 1851 and before 1855 and they settled on a farm in Jordan Township. On 16 November 1861 Alexander enlisted to serve in the Civil War, about 2 months after his brothers had enlisted. His regiment left Milwaukee, WI on 30 March 1862. He fought in the Battle of Shiloh and the siege of Corinth, Mississippi. During July and August he did duty in Bolivar, Tennessee. During this time he developed lung disease and mustered out on 18 September 1862. This may have been pneumonia which was a common and serious ailment amongst the soldiers. But Alexander’s Civil War story does not end here.

In my research I found that an Alexander Adair from Monroe, Green County, Wisconsin had enlisted on 7 November 1862 with the 31st Wisconsin Infantry Regiment, Company G. This would have been about 6 weeks after he had mustered out of the 18th Infantry Regiment. I had a difficult time connecting this record to my Alexander Adair but felt that it was unlikely that there were two Alexander Adairs from Monroe, WI. It didn’t make sense that all his records referred to his service in the 18th Infantry Regiment and never to the 31st Infantry Regiment until I had found an image of the roster for the 31st Infantry. Alexander Adair is listed as mustered out on 23 January 1863 because he deserted. He probably did not want that part of his service remembered. I can only speculate what may have happened. Was he pressured to re-enlist after his health improved? Did he fear going back into battle? Was there a family need or emergency back home? I will never know this part of the story.

After the war Alexander remained in the Green County area marrying Geraldine Osgood on 4 July 1871. By 1880 they settled in Lafayette County (one county west of Green) in the South Wayne area. He worked as a farmer and a carpenter. His wife died on 16 June 1892. They had 11 children, which I have been unable to sort out or find all of them. The names were very similar and misspelled often on census records. Alexander Adair died on 15 April 1922 and is buried in the Hoffman Cemetery near South Wayne, Wisconsin.

In researching these three brothers, I have learned about their service in the Civil War and about the war itself. I have gained an appreciation for the service of all the men who fought on both sides in a very difficult, brutal war. And many did not come home.

When Johnny comes marching home, Hurrah, Hurrah,

We’ll give him a hearty welcome then, Hurrah, Hurrah,

The men will cheer, the boys will shout,

The ladies, they will all turn out,

And we’ll all feel gay,

When Johnny comes marching home.

 


 

  1. Year: 1851; Census Place: Howard, Kent County, Canada West (Ontario); Schedule: A; Roll: C_11729; Page: 49; Line: 45
  2. 1860 U.S. census, Green County, Wisconsin, population schedule, Jordan, p. 267 (penned) , dwelling 146, family 97, Alexander Adair: digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 13 March 2015); from National Archives microfilm publication M653, roll 1438, image 276.
  3. 1861-1865 Roster of Wisconsin volunteers, War of the Rebellion, Section: Vol. II. Eighteenth Regiment Infantry, p. 87 Alexander Adair: digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 29 March 2015
  4. “18th Regiment Infantry, Union Regimental Histories, Wisconsin” (Wisconsin), electronic article, Civil War History (http://www.civilwararchive.com/Unreghst/unwiinf2.htm#18thinf: accessed 1 Apr 2015).
  5. Adjutant-General’s Office. Roster of Wisconsin volunteers, War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865 (Madison, 1886). Digital image; Roster for 31st Wisconsin Infantry Regiment, Company G, pg 459. Online facsimile at http://content.wisconsinhistory.org/u?/tp,35928
  6. Wisconsin, Marriages, 1820-1907, database, Ancestry (http://ancestry.com: accessed 29 November 2013), entry for Alexander Adair.
  7. 1880 U.S. census, Green County, Wisconsin, population schedule, Jordan, enumeration district 139, p. 117C (stamped), dwelling 92, family 96, Alexander Adair: digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 30 March 2015); from national Archives microfilm publication T9, roll 1454
  8. Find A Grave.com, digital record, Find A Grave (http://www.findagrave.com: accessed 29 November 2013), memorial for Geraldine Adair, Find A Grave Memorial #102112056, South Wayne, Lafayette, Wisconsin.
  9. Find A Grave.com, digital record, Find A Grave (http://www.findagrave.com: accessed 29 November 2013), memorial for Alexander Adair, Find A Grave Memorial #102112054, South Wayne, Lafayette, Wisconsin.
  10. Alexander Adair obituary, Monroe, Wisconsin, Monroe Evening Times, 15 April 1922; Green County Genealogical Society.

Charles Adair Served in the Same Battery as His Brother

Charles Adair, son of John Adair and Nancy (Martha) Simpkins enlisted in the 5th Battery of Wisconsin Independent Light Artillery with his brother, Ezra. The Civil War came in August 1861 and Charles enlisted on 19 September 1861, two days after his brother had enlisted.

During the first week in April 1862 they faced their first battle at Island #10, a confederate stronghold in the Mississippi River that cut off Union movement on the river. Their artillery had not yet arrived so in preparation for battle they built earthworks for gun positions and maintained camp life. Hard work, boredom and disease was faced as the battle raged in the distance. Their captain, Oscar F Pinney, wrote home “I can hear a cannon every half minute and that shake the ground where we are”.1

They moved on to Pittsburg Landing to support the union troops following the Battle at Shiloh. From May to August the 5th Battery supported troop movements in Tennessee and Mississippi and faced weeks of diarrhea from contaminated water supplies and poor sanitation.2 In October the 5th Battery found themselves in a position at the extreme front in the Battle of Perryville (Chaplin Hills). Captain Pinney would order his men to lie down during the fight which certainly saved lives. The canons became so hot that a cease fire had to be ordered but they saved McCooks Corps from being destroyed.1

By mid-November, the campaigns in Kentucky and Tennessee were winding down and the 5th Battery went into winter camp near Nashville. They had been assigned to General William S. Rosecrans’ Army of the Cumberland. On a rare winter assault they moved out with 47,000 troops to drive the Confederate army from the Murfreesboro, Tennessee area. On December 31 they engaged in furious combat near Stones River. So many artillery horses were killed that men were pressed into service to move five of the battery’s six guns. The battle raged for three days.2

Battle of Stones River

Battle of Stones River (Murfreesboro, TN) – Library of Congress

War changes things fast. Captain Pinney was wounded at Stones River and later died. Private Charles Adair was killed in battle at Stones River. His brother, Ezra, would go on without him to start the march known as “Sherman’s March to the Sea”

Charles Adair was born in Canada about 1842-43. His family had settled in Jordan Township, Green County, Wisconsin by 1855. He died at the Battle of Stones River on 31 December 1862.

 


 

  1. Roth, Nathan. “Farm Boys Artillery Men” (Monroe, Wisconsin: New Life Press, 1997); Green County Genealogical Society, pg 12-26.
  2. Figi, Matt. “Oscar F. Pinney, Citizen Soldier.” Bugles, Bayonets & Beyond: Green County and the Civil War. Ed Tom Howe. Spring 2015, pg 39-42.
  3. Year: 1851; Census Place: Howard, Kent County, Canada West (Ontario); Schedule: A; Roll: C_11729; Page: 49; Line: 43
  4. 1860 U.S. census, Green County, Wisconsin, population schedule, Jordan, p. 267 (penned) , dwelling 146, family 97, Ezra Adair: digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 13 March 2015); from National Archives microfilm publication M653, roll
  5. 1861-1865 US Civil War Soldiers, database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 22 March 2015); entry for Charles Adair, State served: Wisconsin; Regiment: 5th Independent Battery, Wisconsin Light Artillery; Enlistment Date: 19 September 1861; Discharge Date: 31 December 1862; compilation of records.
  6. 1861-1865 Registers of Deaths of Volunteers, p. 6, entry for Charles Adair: digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 22 March 2015); National Archives, record group 94
  7. “The battle of Stone River or Murfreesboro,” Library of Congress, digital images, loc.gov (http://loc.gov: accessed 19 March 2015).
Ezra Adair – Lucky to Survive the Civil War

Ezra Adair – Lucky to Survive the Civil War

Ezra Adair’s captain, O. F. Pinney, wrote home after the battle at Chaplin Hills that he was “the luckiest man in the world” to have survived.1 That had to be the sentiment of Ezra Adair and all the soldiers in Green County’s 5th Battery of Wisconsin Independent Light Artillery during the Civil War.

Three sons of John Adair and Nancy (Martha) Simpkins enlisted as soldiers in the Civil War. Ezra, my 2nd great grand uncle, was the oldest. He was born in Canada in December 1840 and sometime between 1852-1855 the family immigrated to Wisconsin settling in Jordan Township of Green County.

Governor Alexander Randall had commissioned Oscar F. Pinney to raise an artillery battery. Patriots spoke at rallies throughout Green County to encourage young men to enlist. Possibly Ezra attended one of those rallies. In Helen Bingham’s “History of Green County, Wisconsin 1877” she states, “Farm boys of Cadiz, Clarno, Mt. Pleasant, Monticello, Adams, Jordan, Jefferson and Sylvester signed up as patriotic soldiers to man the 5th Battery.”2 Ezra enlisted on 17 September 1861 and two days later his brother, Charles, enlisted. Along with about 150 other Green County men they left for Camp Utley in Racine, WI, where they trained and drilled from early October 1861 until March 1862. On March 19, 1862 they embarked on a march that did not end until 3400 miles later in June of 1865.

Battery En Route

Battery En Route – Library of Congress

Abatis

Abatis – Library of Congress

I recently attended a small Civil War reenactment at which they demonstrated the shooting of a cannon that would have been similar to what the men in the 5th Battery would have been responsible for. It took six men to shoot the cannon, each with an assigned job to complete the task. These men would have had to been very disciplined to continue the task in the chaos of a smoke filled battlefield. In battle, Ezra would have had other responsibilities than shooting cannons. If the guns were to be in position for an extended time, log breastworks were built; outside berms for protection against incoming “freight” needed to be built; abatis* needed to be cut from trees and limbs stuck into the ground with the points facing the enemy. The axe and shovel were important tools of war. But life in the 5th Battery was not all battle and there was camp life in between.

10 soldiers with cannon

10 soldiers with cannon – Library of Congress

The 5th Battery was responsible for the artillery which was mainly cannons, but also included limbers** with the ammunition and supplies. A large battery wagon held about 125 items, including such things as carpenter’s and saddler’s tools, oil, paint, spokes, harnesses, axes, spades, tarps, spare gunner’s supplies and forage for the horses. Another limber pulled the blacksmith’s forge loaded with horse shoes, nails, hardware tools and spare repair items. They were responsible for the care of about 140 horses and mules which required constant care. When the forage became scarce they foraged from fields under the displeasure of the land owners. Even for themselves, a pig, cow, or chicken would be reduced to meat or stew. These young farm boys loved milk and often bought it from farmers, but sometimes they (and maybe even Ezra) would milk a tame cow right in the field leaving a farmer to wonder why his cow’s milk supply was so low.

Sickness was a problem and bedridden soldiers were nursed by their buddies. More soldiers died from disease than bullet. When they were in good health they practiced firing drills three times a day. Reading books and writing letters was important, but mail call was the big event. Ezra and Charles both desired to have that connection with home and loved ones.

The most difficult battle for Ezra had to be the Battle of Stones River. “The day after Christmas, Pinney and his men moved out with 47,000 Union troops on a rare winter assault to drive the Confederate army from the area near Murfreesboro, Tennessee, to secure more open supply lines to Nashville….on December 31, engaged furious combat…”1 At the end of this three day battle Ezra learned that his brother, Charles, had been killed in battle and their captain had been wounded and left behind to be captured. Captain O. F. Pinney died of his wounds in February. After a battle the men had the horrible job of finding and bringing in the wounded and identifying and burying the dead. How much more horrible when you also have to bury your brother.

Ezra went on to fight other battles throughout Georgia including the Siege of Atlanta and the Siege of Savannah. On 9 April 1865 Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Court Houses. 14 April 1865 Lincoln was assassinated. The soldiers wept openly. On 24 May 1865 Ezra Adair and the 5th Battery of Wisconsin marched their last march together as part of the Grand Army of the Republic in The Grand March through Washington, DC. Ezra returned to Wisconsin and mustered out on 6 June 1865.

Grand Review

Grand Review in Washington, DC – Library of Congress

He returned to Green County and married Elizabeth Cummins Sparks on 13 August 1865. Three sons, Harvey, Charles and Alexander were born to them while living in Green County. By 1872 Ezra had moved his family to Kansas where his son, Ezra, was born and four daughters, Maud, Josephine, Bertha and Elizabeth. While in Kansas he rents farmland and becomes an expert well-driller. By 1890 he owns a farm in Afton, Sanborn, South Dakota and he has taught his son, Harvey, the well-drilling trade. He dies on 17 September 1902 and is buried in Esmond, Kingsbury, South Dakota.

As we commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the end of the Civil War we honor all our ancestors who courageously fought in this war and left their mark on our country.

*Abatis – a defensive obstacle formed from rows of tree branches, with an end of each branch facing outward toward the enemy

 **Limber – a two-wheeled vehicle pulled by horse to which a gun or caisson may be attached


  1. Figi, Matt. “Oscar F. Pinney, Citizen Soldier.” Bugles, Bayonets & Beyond: Green County and the Civil War. Ed Tom Howe. Spring 2015, pg 39-42.
  2. Roth, Nathan. “Farm Boys Artillery Men” (Monroe, Wisconsin: New Life Press, 1997); Green County Genealogical Society, pg 3.
  3. 1885 Kansas State census, Crawford County, Kansas, population schedule, McCune, p. 214-215 (penned), dwelling 4, family 4, Ezra Adair: digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 13 March 2015); from Kansas State Historical Society microfilm publication KS1885, roll 33.
  4. Wisconsin, Marriages, 1820-1907, database, Ancestry (http://ancestry.com: accessed 24 November 2013), entry for Ezra Adair.
  5. Year: 1851; Census Place: Howard, Kent County, Canada West (Ontario); Schedule: A; Roll: C_11729; Page: 49; Line: 43.
  6. 1860 U.S. Census, Green County, Wisconsin, population schedule, Jordan, p. 267 (penned) , dwelling 146, family 97, Ezra Adair: digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 13 March 2015); from National Archives microfilm publication M653, roll 1438, image 276.
  7. 1861-1865 US Civil War Soldiers, database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 13 March 2015); entry for Ezra Adair, State served: Wisconsin; Regiment: 5th Independent Battery, Wisconsin Light Artillery; Enlistment Date: 17 September 1861; Discharge Date: 6 June 1865; compilation of records.
  8. 1875 Kansas State census, Labette County, Kansas, population schedule, Osage, p. 6 (penned), dwelling 46, family 46, Ezra Adair: digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 24 November 2013); from Kansas State Historical Society microfilm publication KS1875, roll 10.
  9. Find A Grave.com, digital record, Find A Grave (http://www.findagrave.com: accessed 15 March 2015), memorial for Ezra Adair, Find A Grave Memorial #117232238, Esmond, Kingsbury, South Dakota
  10. “Ten unidentified artillery soldiers in Union uniforms with cannon,” Library of Congress, digital images, loc.gov (http://loc.gov: accessed 19 March 2015).
  11. “Battery of light artillery en route,” Library of Congress, digital images, loc.gov (http://loc.gov: accessed 19 March 2015).
  12. ” Atlanta, Ga. Chevaux-de-frise on Marietta Street; photographic wagons and darkroom beyond,” Library of Congress, digital images, loc.gov (http://loc.gov: accessed 20 March 2015).
  13. “Washington, District of Columbia. The Grand Review of the Army. Infantry passing on Pennsylvania Avenue near the Treasury,” Library of Congress, digital images, loc.gov (http://loc.gov: accessed 19 March 2015).

John Adair – Fighting for the King of England

My 5th great grandfather John Adair (1759 – 1812) was the son of David & Abigail Adair, Loyalists from Pencarder Hundred, Delaware. Loyalists believed strongly that the Stamp Act and the Coercive Act would not benefit the lives of the early Americans but felt that a peaceful means to resolve these issues was the better way. They also felt independence would mean a loss of economic benefits in the British mercantile system. Life for the Loyalists was not easy. The Adairs had their property confiscated so they moved to New Jersey.

At age 18, on 4 April 1777, John enlisted in Lt. Col. Joseph Barton’s Company, 5th Battalion of New Jersey Volunteers. Between October and December of 1780 John was captured and kept a prisoner of war in a coal mine. At the end of the war in 1783 he was paroled to a restricted, select area of New Jersey and was not allowed to enter British territory until 1795. At that time, John and his wife, Phoebe (née Mills), joined John’s parents in Clinton Township. (Upper Canada, later Ontario). Land grants were given by the crown to the Loyalists. He petitioned for and acquired land in Clinton Township on 6 July 1795. He succeeded his father as clerk of Clinton Township from 1806 to 1812.

John enlisted with the 4th Lincoln Regiment during the War of 1812. In a war that as many men died from disease as from bullets, John Adair died of disease on 18 December 1812 at the army camp at Niagra-on-the-Lake.